Monday, May 9, 2016

Earth Day Eco-event with Senator Tarr

Senator Bruce Tarr joins Earth Day Eco-event
$1,000 solar electricity donation to Action, Inc. & Premier of new TV show, Ecolibrium

April 26, 2016 (Gloucester, MA) Senator Bruce Tarr joined the Earth Day event on April 22nd at the Cape Ann Community Cinema. Gloucester resident John Livermore presented Action, Inc. with a donation of $1,000 of clean solar electricity for two of their clients. Livermore created the first renovated home in Massachusetts, and one of the first in the U.S., to produce more energy than it uses. Livermore donated the “banked” electricity, from the credit on his family’s National Grid electric account, to help two local families in need. 

Renovating homes to be energy producers is a powerful tool in our national toolkit to reduce carbon pollution and achieve climate goals. Livermore says, “We are thrilled to be able to show that homes can be renovated to be net energy producers, that can contribute positively to their community. We are honored to make this donation to Action to help support the great work they do here in Gloucester every day.” 

“We hope that John’s generous example will set a precedent for other net positive energy innovators, working toward the creation of an ‘electricity bill credit bank’ that could help out low-income families while also helping to combat the effects of climate change,” said Action, Inc.’s Vice President for Energy Services Elliott Jacobson.

“This donation will go a long way to help two families who, like so many others on Cape Ann, face the high cost of living in this area and struggle to keep up with basic needs like housing, heating, and food expenses,” said Action, Inc. Executive Director Peggy Hegarty-Steck. “Action works with families facing hardships every day, and we’re very appreciative of the support we receive from community members like John.” 

Event participants had the opportunity to view the first episode of the new TV series, Ecolibrium. This dynamic show shares stories of sustainability found across the greater Boston area, and the first 20-minute episode is about the Livermore’s net positive energy home in Gloucester. The show is produced by award winning filmmaker, Margo Attaya and hosted by Dr. Paul J. Wolff III, a celebrated educator and eco-entrepreneur. Ecolibrium is produced in association with Wincam (Winchester Cable Access Media) and provides viewers with insight and information about cutting-edge projects, inventions, businesses, community-based outreach, activism, technologies and entrepreneurial ventures associated with sustainability.

Livermore is launching a non-profit organization, Healthy Home Healthy Planet (H3P), whose mission is to empower people to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their quality of life. For more information about H3P, and to see the 10-minute video on the Livermore family’s innovative renovation of their 1970’s Gloucester home - and their quest to eliminate their energy bills and carbon footprint - please visit, and see them on Facebook and YouTube.

John Livermore, Executive Director
(978) 325-1701

John Livermore presents Elliott Jacobson of Action Inc. with a solar electricity donation of $1,000

Left to right, Peggy Hegarty-Steck, John Livermore, Senator Bruce Tarr, Elliott Jacobson,
Rita Carvalho and the Action Inc. team

Premier of Ecolibrium TV, covering dynamic sustainability stories around Greater Boston

A Student's Journey With Food

My Spring Food Journey by Johan Arango

EMR 110: The EMR of Food:
How Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights Are Parts of the Food We Eat

If you feel like having pizza for dinner, you can either use an app on your cellphone or make a call to get it delivered. It’s very easy and there’s really no need to think too much about all the activities that take place to get that piece of pizza to your door on time, with the right ingredients, and safe to be consumed.

We have a food system that excels at being convenient.

That convenience may make that system into an invisible web that we increasingly grow unaware of and could easily completely ignore.

Food systems can be very hard to understand ,especially when you start asking yourself what really happens from seed to fork. Whether is health interests, religious beliefs, economic prospects, human rights concerns, or any other reason, some of us start navigating this complex journey.

This journey may start by reading a book in the summer, followed by a series of documentaries in the fall. Through the winter, you follow the posts that your foodie friend has been publishing on Facebook, and when it’s finally spring, you go on Pinterest to get ideas to start your garden. At this point, in an already advanced level of Food Inc. inspired paranoia, you have decided that a garden is the only way you can have total control of the food you consume.

As a result of this personal search for answers, this spring I was led to the EMR of Food classroom. EMR stands for Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights. And as the name of the class states, it goes into a search on how ethnicity, migration, and rights are parts of the food we eat. I found out about this class through the Food Literacy Project at Harvard, and as you can imagine from what EMR stands for, we embarked on an extensive and exciting journey.  

First, we discussed local and global food politics. We read about the power of local initiatives to bring access to healthier foods to marginalized communities. We also read about the struggle of African American farmers in the United States, and how difficult is to have a financially sustainable farm in this country. In one of our books, we had a chance to go over general aspect of food politics, and we discussed the current need for a national food policy.

We dedicated one week to bananas and their complex reality. We love them and eat a lot of them, however, there’s a sad history behind those bananas that persist up to this date. After a week of going through the bittersweet history of bananas, we took a trip to Taza Chocolate.

Sidenote: Our trip to Taza was delicious! You should go!

After four weeks, the class was always highly involved with our discussions, the readings, and the everyone of us had a valuable insight that created an amazing academic experience.

This enthusiasm was always steady and every week everyone was eager to be part of the discussion. As a matter of fact, we always ran out of time. It felt like we couldn’t get everything off our chests and had to stop right at the peak of our discussion. Therefore, we had to share our thoughts and stories with our classmates on our online group.

In our following weeks, we explored the systematic structure behind agribusiness and immigration to subsequently go over food culture and food choices.  I don’t want to go over all the content in this article, especially because I want to highly encourage you to be part of this class.

As you can see, we had a broad coverage of topics in agriculture and food production that are strongly related to sustainability.  

We often think of sustainability when we reduce the use of energy and water in our buildings. Other people may think of solar panels. Some may quickly think of fuel and cars.

Yes, those things are part of sustainability but it doesn’t stop there.

Workers’ rights and human rights are part of sustainability.

Transparency is part of sustainability.

Food trade policies have a strong impact on achieving sustainability.

Providing healthy foods to our kids in schools, that’s sustainability!
By the way, did you know that pizza is considered a vegetable in school lunch plans because it has tomato sauce?

Have you ever wonder where to get a food product that is affordable, healthy, that doesn’t harm the environment, that is fair to the farmers and everyone involved in the production chain?

That in my mind is the definition of a sustainable product.
Whether is edible or not.

Perhaps, it’s really hard to find it right now.

Perhaps, a lot of people are opposed to it because is not easy to achieve or because it goes against their economic interests.

Change is difficult but this is our job and commitment as students and future professionals in the field of Sustainability.

We wouldn’t be part of this program if we didn’t believe change is possible.
For those students or members of our Harvard community who are interested in food systems, I encourage you to join this joyful stimulating academic adventure with Dr. Tessa Lowinske Desmond.